We know the the basic story of the Bible--that God has been working, since before the creation of the world, his plan to redeem the world. That plan culminated in Jesus--the Son of God--who died as an atonement for our sins, so we can have peace with God, access to the Father, and security in eternal life through the Spirit.
We also know that we are called to be living light in this world--to be shaped into the light-bearing image of Christ through the Spirit, to be sanctified through obedience to God’s Word, and to be built together with fellow believers into a temple of the Lord where God dwells by his Spirit. As godly men, we feel this burden and know our limitations. Yet, we must always strive to become who God wants us to be.
Part of this growth is to realize that God calls us to always strive to be spiritual leaders--first in our homes, then in our church. Although we know this, many of us struggle to open ourselves in the vulnerability we need to be the true leaders of household and church we are called to be.
I’m writing this letter to remind you of the gospel truths we hold to and to put before you five things that, if we focus diligently on them, will enable us to grow in grace in truth.
- Sacrifice in serving. All true spiritual growth begins with sacrifice. In sacrifice, we are reminded first of the sacrifice of Jesus for us. Our own sacrifices pale in comparison to his, yet, when we sacrifice for others we reflect Jesus in our lives. One of the best gauges of your own spiritual growth is to ask how often and in which ways you sacrifice yourself in order to serve others, especially in your homes. Consider also how can you serve the church--are you considering the needs of others and sacrificing your needs for theirs?
- Honoring others in humility. Humility, also, is a virtue of Christ. Humility is the basis out of which we serve. It is the basis of our obedience to God. We will do well if, on a daily basis, we ask ourselves if we are being obedient. While this seems obvious, we may find that we have been slow to obey, or that we hadn’t given obedience any consideration. Humility keeps our ego and pride in check so that we stay reminded of God’s will. It also reminds us to honor others, and their needs, above ourselves.
- Persevering in prayer. Prayer is where we wait upon God. Prayer keeps us connected to our Father and mindful of the things he has given us for which we ought give constant thanks. We ought to review the prayers in the Bible, especially in Ephesians, as well as the Psalms, and ask whether our own prayers flow out of praise, thanksgiving and a desire for our own spiritual growth, as well as that of others.
- Waiting in the Word. The apostle Paul reminds us, in 1 Thessalonians (5:17), to pray continually. While this may sound impossible, there is a way of reminding ourselves about the will and work of God, and it is twofold: We spend time in the word, reading it for the story it is, and meditating upon the truths therein; and we tell the gospel to ourselves to remind us constantly of the gift of grace God has given us in Jesus. The story of the Bible reminds us of God’s big picture, and the retelling of the gospel reminds us of both who we are and whose we are. The Word sustains us in our daily lives and teaches us about humility, sacrifice and prayer.
- Faithfulness to family. Brothers, it is my observation that the one area where most men come up short is with their families. We have largely lost the notion of being godly leaders in our homes. This leadership is replaced with church services and Bible studies at church meetings. We have reversed the order of things--the church meetings ought to supplement what we are doing with our families at home. We ought to be leading and guiding our families at home, and letting what is taught at church supplement our efforts to guide our families into grace. We cannot adequately obey the teaching in Ephesians (5:1-6:4) and Colossians (3:18-21) if we are not leading at home. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zones in the new year. Acknowledge your faults and failures, and with humility and vulnerability, begin to lead your families. Teach them the gospel by telling them the story of God; teach them the Bible by reading together one chapter each day; lead your family in prayer; let them see the fruits of your own discipleship by how you live before them.
Brothers, I encourage you to focus on these five things in this new year. Never give up hope, and never give up. If you realize you have slacked in these responsibilities, simply pray to God for grace and ask him to help you persevere. Find another brother in Christ who will help you be accountable to these things. As always, brothers, let me know how I can help you or serve you in your spiritual growth.
May God bless you as you strive for Christlikeness in your life and as you lead your families and in the church.
Together with you in Christ,